Recalling 1982

Life imitates art and, every once in a while, art imitates football.  Jeff Livingstone introduces the most enjoyable 15 minutes you will spend this year.

Sometimes you get sight of something that just stops you in your tracks dead.  Watching football it can be a moment of brilliance, an utterly outstanding game or just knowing that you've seen or been part of something special.  The fact that you are here would suggest that you have, at least, a passing interest in football and will enjoy such moments of brilliance, of artistry.  You're a connoisseur.  You can be left open mouthed.  Football can do that to you.

Football is not described as the beautiful game without reason.  While we could all easily name examples of teams, players and managers that more than test that adage, I can't say that I've seen anything that fits in with beautiful quite as much as the subject of this post.

The 1982 World Cup Semi Final between France and West Germany is a game that stands out in the memory for many, even those without a direct link to either country, and thousands without any interest in football.  Offering drama at it's highest, the clash between the two teams had resulted in a 1-1 draw in normal time, with France taking a 3-1 lead in extra time, only to be pegged back to 3-3 by the Germans and a penalty shootout.

I can't even begin to do the game itself justice.  I was 9 and completely preoccupied by football in 1982.  The World Cup that year had been bookmarked in my brain since a family holiday on the Costa del Sol in 1981.  I was so enthralled by the fuss that was being made 12 months before the event began that I recognised I had to take football seriously, if not obsessively.  By the time the 1982 semi final came to pass, I had already cursed Kevin Keegan and marvelled at Gerry Armstrong, but nothing came close to the semi final.  It was my hook.  On reflection, I don't think that the game has been bettered in terms of the skill on show and the drama that ensued.  If you are not familiar with the match, please read Tim Pears excellent re-enactment of the game for the Guardian in 2008, here.

The talismanic French captain at the time, Michel Platini, said: 'That was my most beautiful game. What happened in those two hours encapsulated all the sentiments of life itself. No film or play could ever recapture so many contradictions and emotions. It was complete. So strong. It was fabulous.'

Yet artists often do try to recapture an event such as the 1982 Semi Final, frequently with mixed results.  But may I introduce Pied La Biche, a French video artist who has recreated the last 15 minutes of the match using actual footage and, with the assistance of his collective, acting out the events of the shoot out utilising urban space and amenities in the Lyon suburb of Villeurbanne.  The video is called Refait (re-make).

Don't let my description put you off though, just enjoy La Biche's work, it really is very special.  I'm indebted to Beat the First Man for bringing this to my attention and the excellent From a Left Wing for enriching my life and posting this in the first place.  Please visit both.  Enjoy.